The Ethos of Eros

Posts Tagged ‘sex education

 

Ok, so I admit I never really had a specially commissioned time with my parents to have ‘the talk’ about sex, sexuality, gender and the many similar jargons we use amongst ourselves (the educated elite, as we pride ourselves to be). But my parents have always been open to talk about matters/jokes/issues, innuendos even, related to apparently the most dreaded topic to bring up with older folks.  And I totally understand that every set of parents come with their own background (cultural & social) and baggage (good/bad experiences) and that each set is granted their own discretion with how and when (or maybe even at all) to bring “it” up!

But THIS is just way too much! What was more depressing was my reaction post reading this, “Typical Indian parent!”. This regressive attitude under the falsely socialized garb of being “protective” towards your offspring just shows how much voice, identity and individuality Indian parents give to their children (this, by the way, is quite regardless of age). Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t squarely put the blame on Indian parents, just as Indians shouldn’t do the same to Westerners for globalization and cultural transformation (read, evolution).

In my post grad days, I had put together a couple of tips for parents on how they could approach the topic of sex and sexuality with adolescents at the behest of one of my professors of Developmental Psychology aka Child Psychology. I came up with this list. Here’s a really good article on the same published on Women’s Web.

Tips for parents of adolescents in discussing matters of sexuality

 

1)      Parents must, first, rethink their perceptions and ideas. You are not protecting children by hiding or ignoring facts.

2)      To gauge through their sexuality with your words, it is important to build an open and friendly relationship in general as well.

3)      Instead of choosing a specific time and place to have such talks or discussions, which makes it awkward for both parents and children, its wiser to bring it up as a part of a casual/ongoing conversation as and when an opening comes. For e.g. while watching T.V. or in light of an incident in the papers.

4)      Parents can only exert so much authoritative control on an adolescent’s behavior which is why it is more useful to get through to them in making the right choices for themselves that would lead up to predicted and controlled consequences.

5)      Refrain from preachy comments like, “I was a good child to my parents” or “don’t divert your mind from studies” etc. which will make the teenager feel sinful by engaging in a certain fantasy or an act. The adolescent must be made to feel as normal as everyone else and his behavior as natural a process of growing up.

6)      Don’t discriminate between a son and a daughter, especially with respect to sexuality education. It may not seem like at the moment, but for the long run a daughter’s developmental changes and issues are as much a concern for the son and vice versa. So everything should be discussed with each one in the presence of the other.

7)      It is alright to transmit your moral values or cultural standards of sexuality to your kids, however, in as less an imposing and dogmatic way. The idea is to inspire and persuade them.

8)      It is generally acceptable to say that adolescents, in whichever context, are too young to engage in sex. The information on sexually transmitted diseases, infections and pregnancy are effective ways to prevent teenagers from indulging themselves.

However, one has to be ready to face the fact that despite these dangers, teenagers are still willing to risk it sometimes and thus, safe sex along with sex standards need to be a part of the talk. The greater danger lies in promiscuity or sex (safe or unsafe) with an irresponsible adult or peer.

9)      Parents, in their effort to caution teenagers, should not scare them about their sexuality by solely giving out the gory details. Help them appreciate the beauty of it, as God given as anything else. Most of the media, in this particular aspect, is not helpful save some well crafted movies. Classic literatures like ‘Wuthering Heights’ or others by authors like Jane Austen or William Shakespeare etc. are good paradigms to explore sexuality. Moreover, art in very many forms provide good explorative opportunities with their usually strong undercurrents of sexuality.

10)  Parents should also encourage their child to be sexually confident in the sense that they should not tolerate any kind of harassment/abuse or silently mind their business in seeing someone else suffering abuse.

11)  It is hard to actualize this, but parents must be accepting of their children’s sexual identity. It is important for you to not blame yourself or your children of any wrong doing. It is not their will to a sexual identity/orientation, but a will to live with it which you must appreciate them for.

12)  One may, perhaps, clear all doubts one has on different aspects of sexuality before beginning to educate the younger ones, however, it is perfectly okay to not be able to answer some more technical or any other questions and admit to it. It is much safer to get back with them better informed than to give out misguided messages. Also they would respect your humility in admitting to be a learner, just like them.

13)  Must consistently ask them about all their activities besides studies (or encourage them to pursue some) that ensure healthy libidinal discharge for them as well as interactions with same and opposite sex peers.

14)  Must ask about what’s going on with their friends and age mates at school and other places to get a feel about the attitude of the present generation from a direct source than to be misguided by the media including news channels.

15)  Listen to them with an open mind and at the same time, respect their privacy with as much they are comfortable to share with you at a given time.

Parents are naturally protective about their kids. Its discouraging to know how many parents would take literature or philosophy as a proof of ‘reality checks’ but nevertheless, for all the sceptics my M.A. class did a small scale study on sexuality education and its impact on the students of a Delhi school, the abstract of which is given below –

‘Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) & Emotional Coping Style’

In the present research practical it was undertaken to study the relation between students’ interest and receptivity to Adolescent Education Programme in a private school in Delhi and her/his emotional coping style. This study was carried out in Sri Ram School with the help of the School Counsellor. To fulfill this objective, 42 students (22 boys and 20 girls) aged 14-15 years of class 10 were asked to fill up a questionnaire. However, due to quantitative errors only 28 of the students’ responses were analyzed. It was hypothesized that the higher the receptivity level, the more adaptive the emotional coping style will be. Pearson correlation using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) was used to find the correlation between the receptivity level and the emotional coping style of the AEP participants. The correlation was found to be significant that accepted the hypothesis. Moreover, results showed that boys displayed a slightly higher receptivity level than girls. And although boys varied from confronting to adaptive style of emotional coping, girls only came under the category of confronting style of emotional coping.

For more, you can read the full report here – Sexuality Education & Emotional Coping

Cross check, debate and question/challenge me wherever you feel and feel freerer to share any good suggestions that have worked for any of you out there or think could or have some kind of study/article supporting it.

Its time we acknowledge this elephant long breeding in our rooms!

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